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SHORT TRIPS TO MY ROOTS

A visit to Reardan & Nine Mile Falls, WA

semi-overcast 95 °F

Good Day!

Rising at my usual 0530 time, I fixed coffee to get my day started. Then, as intended, I got out the hose, bucket, and car wash liquid and proceeded to give the MH a bath. It takes about an hour for there is alot of sq. footage to scrub. The good thing is that it was done in relative cool temperatures. Tomorrow morning I'll get the ladder out and wash the spots & streaks from the windows.

After making a couple phone calls to family & friends to keep in contact I showered and got ready to drive to Reardan and Nine Mile Falls. A little background--Our Mother came from Reardan, a small wheat farming community located on US#2 about 20 miles west of Spokane. As I left Spokane heading west on Hwy#2 to Reardan the land flattened and vast wheatfields appeared, as far as the eye can see.

Today, Reardan's shrinking population of 675 people has lost about 10% of its residents since 2000 (I looked it up). It was sad for me to witness this for childhood stories my sisters and I heard painted a different picture (in our minds). As I drove around the hamlet I observed the high school expansion & judging from what I saw I seriously question this need for expansion. The school is the pride of the village, however.
There are some grain elevators located downtown along the train tracks to service the very large area wheat farms, along with a store, a gas station or two, a cafe, and a couple of churches.

In the days of Mother's childhood in the 1930's & 40's in Reardan her life was centered in this little town. Probably the only reliable transportation was the train into Spokane, a rare treat for she, her older sister, and younger brother, I am sure. In spite of their humble beginnings all 3 graduated from college on scholarships. Her mother who taught school in a one-room rural schoolhouse knew the importance of a good education. Mom & her two siblings were successful in their lives due to their work ethic and their educational background.

As I was driving west to Reardan I came upon Fairchild Air Force Base (formerly Fairchild Army Air Field during WWII) about 8 miles from Spokane. This is one of the places where our Father was stationed during WWII. He met our Mom at a St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing dance hosted for the servicemen. That was in 1943, & they were married in 1944. Her world was still limited in scope to Reardan and Spokane 20 miles away. After their marriage in 1944 our Father got orders to report to Orlando, FL for duty. Of course, our Mom left the sheltered life in WA for FL three thousand miles away at the tender age of 22. Homesick, yes. Pregnant, yes (for me), working as an RN in Orlando, yes. Quite a change for her, one that I did not fully appreciate until today.

Now, Nine Mile Falls, WA.-- It is another small hamlet located north of Spokane nine miles from the city on the Spokane River. A spectacular drive, the gorge is several hundred feet high on the River's west bank having been created over many millenia from the River's erosive action. It is where, 55 years ago, I visited our maternal grandparents, having driven 3,000 miles with a friend from northern New York in the summer of 1963. We were 18 at the time. Our grandfather was employed by the Washington Waterpower Co. where the Co. has a hydro-electric dam. I don't recall what Grandpa's responsibilities were at the dam site but the Co. provided housing near the dam as part of his salary. He and grandma always had a backyard vegetable garden, and grandpa kept the garden hoe's blade sharpened for grandma would encounter the occasional rattlesnake in her garden. The sharp blade would enable her to kill them with ease. That's something I never forgot! Driving around the hamlet, and stopping for lunch at 'The Tin Cup' brought back some memories. The company houses still stand but appear to be unoccupied. Times change!

Posted by dixter 16:22 Archived in USA Tagged roots

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